Science of learning: Education is more than teaching skills

Change is constant and inevitable. Organizational change is even harder when it comes to the future of higher education- that is university. This is especially so because of the traditional role of education and human capital in driving economic and social development. Access to education has contributed to a fundamental transformation of societies, but the increasing access to technology is fundamentally changing the narrative of human capital. Over the past decades, universities have responded to technology changes in different ways, based on their challenges, perceptions (values) and expected effectiveness.

Emerging theories on learning and human capital seems to emphasize competencies as an indicator for educational attainment. An evolving narrative that now stresses the importance of human competencies in guiding education policies and standards. Even as the use of data and benchmarks, and evidence-based practices are shifting educational paradigms and beliefs to emphasize “scientific learning.”

As we rethink old assumptions about university education, there is no doubt that in the digital age, new technologies are opening our eyes and minds to new learning possibilities. I would assume, it is a straightforward fact that teaching and learning based on scientific evidence is key to developing critical skill sets (human competencies). And technology is key component to that end. Some may think of changes in education in terms of how teachers approach learning and instructional content and methods of delivery. But, overall, I think the future of university education is linked to  technology.

Technology is a key enabler for learning and evidence-based teaching. Technologies is changing at the same time, making the traditional model of teaching obsolete. Its is offering multiple pathways for learning – think about how we use Google and Wikipedia. The evolution of technology in higher education may have huge implications for professors and students alike. New and innovative technologies (hardware and software applications and platforms), including robotics and artificial intelligence, will permeate all segments of our education systems and society,  uncovering the underlying mechanisms of learning and transferring knowledge using machines (machine learning). This has implications for how we approach both teaching and learning today, and how universities will function in the future.

Many are concerns about the impacts of technology on the education system. But fear not, we will learn and adapt. The university education system will continue to develop and adapt technology changes as a rate that is directly proportional to either economic progress and social changes as influenced by technology. However, over time, human ingenuity will create new social structures and ways to cope with the technology revolution. Throughout human history, technology has always allowed us to create new “information-engagement typology” to advance the human condition.

Overall, technology has done a lot to change university education. Technology has greatly expanded access to education both on-campus and online, and will continue to be at the forefront of human development. A good understanding of new and emerging technologies as social phenomena allows us reimage the constant but transformational role of technology in our society.